By Kimberleigh Forbes
Setting: Los Angeles, California, circa 2055 at UCLA; Rochester University, Rochester, New York and Bronx, New York
Johanna Winbright, 21, beautiful and rich sorority girl, vapid, blonde and extremely self-absorbed. Her sole purpose in college is to meet and marry a star athlete destined to go pro.
Leilani Garcia, 21, beautiful in an understated way, very little makeup, head always in a book, studying to be a veterinarian, extremely independent by nature.
Two childhood friends, Johanna and Leilani, FaceTime to keep in touch. They attend different schools and lead two very different lives, but despite their differences, they remain very close.
On one of their FaceTime calls, something strange happens. As they are talking, they hear a loud boom, and shortly afterward, there is a nationwide blackout. Neither can remember what happened after the eight-hour blackout, but when they wake up the next morning, something is very different.
As they both start their day, they realize their environment isn’t the same. Leilani was in sunny California, and Johanna was freezing in upstate New York.
That wasn’t the only difference. When they each look in the mirror, they see a reflection of the other. Though they were themselves on the inside, they were each other on the outside. Not only did they swap faces, they swapped lives.
Leilani, who was of mixed heritage (Black, Mexican, and Tungan) is now in the midst of wealthy WASPs, and Johanna finds herself in a world that is completely foreign to her.
Both panic and are completely freaked out, but at that moment, nothing can be done about it. When they try to FaceTime each other, the call will not go through and the phone says the other is unavailable.
As Leilani walks through life as Johanna, she is appalled by what she encounters. Johanna’s friends are horrible, saying deplorable things about everyone around them. No one is off limits.
They even notice a difference in Johanna and began shutting her out of every social event, saying she just isn’t pretty anymore and didn’t “keep herself up.”
Leilani begins to see that Johanna’s “perfect’ life isn’t all that perfect. Johanna’s family life is even worse. Scandal and drug abuse riddles Johanna’s family tree, and Leilani wonders how Johanna has dealt with that type of childhood.
Johanna has always seemed perfect, and now she sees that Johanna was good at hiding her issues. Hell is breaking loose all around her and, for once, Leilani doesn’t know what to do.
Johanna, on the other hand, never realized what Leilani went through as a woman of color. Leilani was often the brunt of rude comments and fetishized on a regular basis. Johanna didn’t quite know how to deal with the adverse behavior.
Leilani worked two jobs to pay for what her scholarships did not cover. Johanna didn’t last an entire week as Leilani, before she got fired from both of her jobs and failed a major test.
Johanna had no idea how Leilani dealt with school, work, and driving to the city in her less than reliable car to care for her sick grandmother. It was all too much.
As Johanna is walking back to her car from visiting Leilani’s grandmother, a young man in a hoodie runs past her, almost knocking her down. Behind her, she heard, “Stop! Police!” and at that moment, she felt a searing heat enter her temple. She crumpled to the ground as blood began to pool around her. Everything faded to black and went silent.
To be continued …